Category Archives: Local

A cabbage barrage

Let’s get this out of the way real quick. This post is about cabbage. But wait, hold on! I know what you’re thinking.“Cabbage. Huh. Well I guess I’ll click back to that tutorial on how operate the vacuum at it’s optimal potential.” I know. Cabbage sounds extremely boring. And no, even though St. Patrick’s Day was last week, this has nothing to do with being Irish (which I am) or colcannon. I’m not even being festive.

But before you click away, I used to think the same thing. Cabbage = bland, watery, overcooked, healthy in that feet-dragging kinda way. But then I lived with Jenn, my old roommate. She made this fresh cabbage salad with tons of lime, jalapeno, shredded carrots, green and red cabbage, tossed with a very light, creamy dressing and handfuls of fresh cilantro. She made me reconsider cabbage. (Other things I learned to love from Jenn: black beans, cilantro, jalapenos, mushrooms and Key lime pie.)

Once cabbage and I made friends, it realized how versatile it is. Have you ever bought a head of romaine lettuce, then realized that you want something you can sautee? Or the opposite. You buy some sweet potatoes, then you crave something fresh and uncooked. This happens to me all the time. Especially when the seasons are changing, like they are right now. The beauty of cabbage though, is that it goes both ways. It’s the bisexual, if you will, of brassicas. Eat it fresh, saute it, braise it, roast it, blow your nose with one of its leaves! (Okay, maybe not the last one. Unless you’re really desperate.)

My recent favorite cabbage recipe is caramelized cabbage with lemon and parmesan. This is a great side dish; basically a warm cabbage salad, sauteed until there are little bits of smoky and burnt leaves, tossed with a squinch of fresh lemon and a handful of cheesy goodness. It’s also great for breakfast; fry up an egg, plop it on top, toast a slice of bread and you’re in business.

Warm cabbage salad with lemon and parmesan

Serves 2 as a side dish

1/2 head green cabbage, sliced very thin

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 heaping tablespoons of parmesan cheese, to taste

lemon, to taste (I use roughly 1/4 lemon per 1/2 head cabbage, taste as you go and find your sweet spot)

salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil in heavy bottomed saute pan over medium high heat, add garlic, sautee until fragrant. Add the slivered cabbage.

2. Cook the cabbage until browned in places (5-7 minutes). Turn off the heat, add parmesan, lemon, salt and pepper. Taste. Adjust for seasoning. Serve warm. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to three days.

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Filed under Gluten-free, Local, Quick, Recipes, Sidedish, Vegetables

Lazy, but not local

Making pesto in winter when Mother Nature just dumped a fluffy foot of snow on your house is certainly not endorsed by strict localvores. It’s a task normally reserved for the hazy days of summer, when gardens are busting with basil, not sleeping quietly under a heavy blanket of white.

But I’m a fish taco freak and for me, fish tacos need fresh cilantro. In the winter this means I buy my fresh herbs from Mexico, Guatemala, or where ever else they’re shipped from. Oops.

Wilted cilantro ready for the food processor.

I usually buy a bunch and everything is fine and dandy. I have some delicious tacos, then I toss the rest of the cilantro in the fridge and forget about it. Until a week later, when I’m rummaging in the vegetable drawer, trying to scare up some grub and there it is. A bunch of verdant herbs, now wilted and limp. It makes me feel guilty.

Enter, poor man’s pesto.

Even yellowing and wilted herbs can turn into a bright pesto.

Whatever wilted and forgotten herbs you have on hand (I’ve tried cilantro, parsley and basil all with success), whizzed in the food processor with nuts, a bit of olive oil and citrus, salt and pepper and you’ve got a vibrant, zippy condiment that is great on anything: fish, chicken, tofu, meat, bread, crackers. It freezes well too.

Pesto most frequently presents itself in the pesto alla genovese form, with basil and pine nuts as the base. But “pesto” is really just a term derived from the Italian word for “to crush,” as in to crush herbs and garlic (think mortar and pestle). I stopped using pine nuts in my pesto because they are so expensive and I prefer the flavor of walnuts. Use whatever you like. The best part about pesto is you can use whatever you have on hand. I’ve made pesto with pine nuts, walnuts, sunflower sweets, peanuts, almonds and pecans. Also, herbs that may be too wilted to chop and sprinkle are great for pesto, I’ve never noticed a lack of brightness, even from leaves that look destined for the compost pile. Just watch for the rotten bits. Pick those out.

Some ideas:

  • cilantro, walnut, lime pesto atop a firm white fish like halibut or sea bass
  • lemon, parmesan, parsley pesto tossed with whole wheat pasta
  • sage, walnut, garlic pesto served with roasted pork

This recipe is in the style of Michael Ruhlman author of, “Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking.” In Ruhlman’s cookbook he focuses on the ratios required in different recipes, rather than give exact measurements of every single ingredient.

The ratio (roughly) =

2 parts fresh herbs 1 part nuts

Sometimes you have two wilting bunches of herbs, sometimes a scant one. Maybe you have a lime to use up, maybe it’s a lemon. They key to success lies in tasting as you go. When you can’t stop dipping your hand straight into the bowl, licking the pesto surreptitiously from your fingers, you’re done.

Note: You need a food processor. Or giant muscles and a mortar and pestle, but that’s a lot of work.

Poor man’s wilted herb pesto

Ingredients

2 cups fresh herbs, stems on, roughly chopped (cilantro, basil, parsley or some combination have all worked well for me)

1 cup nuts (I’ve had success with walnuts, pecans, peanuts, sunflower seeds and pine nuts)

1/4 cup oil (olive, or another but stay away from very strong flavors like sesame). NOTE: This is a fairly dry pesto, with less oil than some. Add more if you prefer.

2 cloves garlic (more or less, depending on preference)

lemon or lime juice to taste

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Skin the garlic and mince it in a food processor.

2. Chop off the end of the herb’s stems, roughly chop the rest. Add into the food processor along with the nuts, no need to chop them. Whiz the herbs and nuts together, drizzling in the olive oil until you get the consistency you’re looking for. I like mine smooth, but with visible specks of herbs.

3. Add the lemon or lime juice and salt and pepper. Whiz everything together, taste, adjust for seasoning. Freeze in small glass jars with an inch of head room or refrigerate for 3-4 days.

Yields roughly a cup and a half.

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Filed under Gluten-free, Local, Recipes, Steals and Deals, Uncategorized

Late to the party

I am big on texture as far as food goes.

Crunchy, crispy, smooth – anything but gelatinous and I’m game. Which is why I came a little late to the oyster party. I tried one when I was younger; it didn’t go well. There was an attempt at chewing, followed by a little bug-eyed choking. It wasn’t pretty. I wanted to like them – they smell of the ocean, my happy place. And you can’t beat the presentation: served perched on their own ornate little shells, luxuriously glinting from a bed of crushed ice.

An oyster tasting at the Summer Shack of all East Coasters: Cotuit, Chatham Bay, Wellfleet, Wianno, Island Creek, Pemaquid.


A November birthday dinner for Bo’s sister Lizzy at East Coast Grill in Inman Square gave me another chance to slurp down one of these suckers and see if I could finally enjoy it. And I did. Maybe it was the company, the Spanish Cava or the fact that the briny oysters were plucked from Duxbury Bay, just over 30 miles away.

Whatever it was, I’m a convert.

There is nothing like taking that tiny sip of the oyster’s juice before you slurp it down. It tastes of the ocean, or rather, how I think the ocean should taste. Not like when you were small and accidentally drink a half gallon of it after being hit by a wave and tumbled head over heel so many times you aren’t sure which way is up until finally, gasping for air you emerge, polka dot bikini bottoms around your ankles, matching suspenders rendered useless, fashionable but useless, at your feet. Ah memories.

A Wellfleet, so far my East Coast favorite. Clean and briny, not too fishy, all ocean flavor.


Oysters usually cost between $2 and $3 on most raw bar menus, but there are dozens of $1 oyster deals all over the city to explore. Here are a few to get started on.

$1 oyster deals

(click on the links for addresses, contact information and menus.)

  • 8-10 p.m. on Sundays, $1 oysters and $1 PBRs = hipster heaven at Myers + Chang in the South End.
  • 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, $1 oysters. Summer Shack’s Boston and Hingham locations, at the bar only.
  • Tuesdays, $1 oysters, Scarlet Oak Tavern, Hingham.
  • Fridays, through December 2010, $1 oysters, Turner Fisheries in Back Bay.
  • 5:30 p.m. until the last oyster is shucked, $1, Mondays, Rialto Restaurant, Cambridge.
  • 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. late night live-shucked $1 oysters at the bar, Wednesdays at Sel de la Terre‘s Long Warf location.
  • 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday at the bar, $6 for 6 oysters, Legal Sea Foods, multiple locations.
  • 5 p.m. until close on Wednesdays, $1 oysters at the bar, Abby Park in Milton.

Any additions and updates would  be most welcome, send me a note if you have a favorite Boston-area oyster deal and I’ll add it to the list.

 

9 Comments

Filed under Eating out, Local, Restaurants, Seafood, Steals and Deals